Bord Bia wants to continue remote auditing for Bord Bia’s Sustainable Assurance Schemes for Beef, Lamb and Dairy (SBLAS and SDAS) and it is looking into extending the period of certification from 12 to 18 months for remote audits.

Bord Bia hit the ground running on remote auditing and auditors are eating into the backlog created during the first few weeks of COVID-19 restrictions in March and April.

According to sector manager for quality assurance Mick Houlihan, Bord Bia, the auditors and the helpdesk very quickly ramped up completion numbers when they got into the swing of things.

Speaking on Farm Tech Talk, he said: “It was a successful venture for our first foray into remote audits and served the purpose very well.

"The primary thing was to get assessments completed that would ensure certification was still in place. Farmers adapted very well.

"On a comparison week on week, year on year, we’d see more audits per week on remote versus on-farm last year.”

Complimentary

Houlihan was very complimentary for farmers and how they reacted and suggested that, overall, it was working well and looks like everyone is going to have to continue to avail of it into the future.

When questioned on what’s next in developing it further, Houlihan said it was back to Bord Bia now to make any changes as advised by auditors, etc.

He said: “Next step on remote auditing is back to Bord Bia and the learnings from what has happened that has come back to us. We will be looking at them as a more permanent role and that’s what we will be working on now to make it robust, fair and user-friendly.”

Houlihan also said that they are looking into extending the certification to ensure that it will allow Bord Bia assure farmers for 18 months on quality assurance.

While on-farm audits are now allowed again, no on-farm audits will take place in Laois, Kildare and Offaly and others could be subject to change.

The vast majority of audits scheduled are still remote audits and still the preference for Bord Bia. The Bord Bia helpdesk is 01-524 0410.

Farm Tech Talk - Episode 22: Mick Houlihan, Bord Bia from Irish Farmers Journal on Vimeo.

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